Stanford Looks to Secure Conference Title This Week; Pac-12 Update (Nov. 14)

  0 Derek Johnson | November 14th, 2017 | College - Women's Indoor, Pac 12

Four matches remain for everyone in the Pac-12 and still plenty of jostling is going on in the middle of the conference. Surrounding that big group of 9-7 teams though are four at the top – each separated from each other – and a quartet of teams at the bottom.

Starting at the top though, the Stanford Cardinal continue to own a sizable lead for first despite suffering their first loss of the conference season last week. With their strong lead, they can wrap up the Pac-12 title this week as a win over USC would clinch it outright but otherwise any other win would nab at least a share.

More analysis after the Pac-12 table:

Pac-12 Volleyball Standings (As of November 14, 2017):

Stanford 15-1 22-3 W3-1 WSU VS 11/15Pac-12 Bay Area
USC 12-4 20-7 W3-2 COLO 11/15Pac-12 Bay Area
Washington 11-5 21-6 W3-0 CAL 11/17Oregon State Live Stream-2
Utah 10-6 19-8 W3-1 UCLA VS 11/17Pac-12 Mountain
Colorado 9-7 19-8 L2-3 USC VS 11/17Colorado Live Stream
Oregon State 9-7 19-9 W3-2 ASU VS 11/17Oregon State Live Stream-2
Oregon 9-7 16-8 L2-3 ARIZ VS 11/17Pac-12 Networks
UCLA 9-7 16-9 L1-3 UTAH 11/16Pac-12 Networks
Washington State 4-12 15-13 L1-3 STAN 11/17Pac-12 Networks
California 4-12 13-14 L0-3 WSU VS 11/17
Arizona 4-12 10-15 W3-2 ORE 11/17Colorado Live Stream
Arizona State 0-16 10-18 L2-3 ORST 11/17Pac-12 Mountain

So Close: Stanford (15-1 Conference Record)

Stanford is just one win or USC loss away from earning a share of the Pac-12 crown (and both or two wins from an outright title). However, they can accomplish it all with their next match because sure enough they get the Trojans at home. If they can’t accomplish a victory there, they will have a couple more ranked home matches before a road trip to Cal, as they should be in good shape to finish off this strong Pac-12 season.

Beyond their in-conference focus, Stanford’s final four matches will have weight on a national scope as well. The Cardinal are one of several teams competing for a top four seed in the NCAA Tournament. Since they came in at #4 a few weeks ago in the preview, one team in front of them (Minnesota) has lost once along with Stanford and one right behind them (Kentucky) with Florida and Stanford adding to their resumes. It should be a fight to the finish, so the Cardinal might need to win out against a tough schedule.

Remaining schedule:

  • vs. #11 USC (12-4)
  • vs. #20 UCLA (9-7)
  • vs. #17 Utah (10-6)
  • at California (4-12)

Not mathematically eliminated: USC (12-4 Conference Record)

The Trojans are mathematically still alive for the Pac-12 title because if they won out and Stanford lost their final four, USC would win the conference outright. Additionally, if USC wins out – which would include a victory at Stanford – the Cardinal would need to lose two more (potentially their two other ranked matches) for the title to be a split.

USC also saw a big boost this past week in their RPI as they moved into the top 10 at nine to be exact. That puts them on a great track to host in the first couple of NCAA Tournament rounds, but with a difficult schedule it won’t be easy closing things out. If they can win two of four they should still be okay, but it’d be safer to win at least three.

Remaining schedule:

  • at #3 Stanford (15-1)
  • at California (4-12)
  • at #16 Oregon (9-7)
  • vs. #20 UCLA (9-7)

Coming on Strong: Washington (11-5 Conference Record)

Last year’s Pac-12 champion, the Washington Huskies, would need to win out, USC to lose at least once (but not against Stanford) and have the Cardinal lose their final four for a split of the Pac-12 championship. With that being a difficult and unlikely task, at the very least Washington is playing strong at the exact right time. Players are starting to get healthy and the Huskies have started to figure out their best rotations and player roles. With a tough two matches this week but an overall manageable finish, they could be shooting for second in the Pac-12.

A second-place finish would still be impressive and look good for their first/second round hosting opportunity, although a third or fourth place ranking wouldn’t be much of a difference. Still, they could be in line for a top eight seed, which would allow them not to play on the road until the Elite Eight (assuming the top seed was still there) and could even host if that top team in the region was upended early. To get that top eight spot, Washington will likely need to win out, though winning two or three should be enough to host in the first two rounds.

Remaining schedule:

  • at (RV) Oregon State (9-7)
  • at #16 Oregon (9-7)
  • vs. Arizona (4-12)
  • vs. Arizona State (0-16)

First/Second Round Hosting Bubble: Utah (10-6), Colorado (9-7), Oregon (9-7), UCLA (9-7)

Beyond a plethora of teams jockeying for positioning in the ever-changing Pac-12 standings, they are all battling each other and schools around the country for a top 16 seed. That would indicate an ability to host in the first two rounds, as all four of these schools have shots at earning that recognition but need strong finishes.

More likely than not just one or two of this group will end up with that classification as Utah and Oregon have the best chances with Colorado and UCLA looking to make a late statement to grab the committee’s attention.

The Upstart Surprise: Oregon State (9-7 Conference Record)

The Beavers have turned around their Pac-12 season after a rough start and now are the surprise of the season as they look to be in solid positioning for a 2017 NCAA Tournament bid. From a Pac-12 standpoint, they can still earn a big-time finish in the standings, especially with a difficult schedule to finish – although all come in Corvallis.

With that tough finish to the regular season, it would actually still be possible for Oregon State to make the NCAA Tournament with four straight losses, however to be safe they would likely need to snag at least one victory in their final stand.

Remaining schedule:

  • vs. #8 Washington (11-5)
  • vs. Washington State (4-12)
  • vs. #20 UCLA (9-7)
  • vs. #16 Oregon (9-7)

Bubblicious: Washington State (4-12 Conference Record)

The Cougars split last week as they were also on the bubble classification just seven days ago. They’ve got an RPI of 43, which adds to that bubble talk but may not have the conference record to get in. Knowing that, they need to win at least two of their final four with tough opponents to end the year would really boost their RPI.

Remaining schedule:

  • at #16 Oregon (9-7)
  • at (RV) Oregon State (9-7)
  • vs. Arizona State (0-16)
  • at #8 Washington (11-5)

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